Seeing is Believing

Before heading out from Flagstaff for my first World Cup race – the Montreal World Cup – Greg told me, “You belong there, you just have to believe.” I wanted to believe. I felt fit and strong and perhaps the most rested/freshest I’ve been since worlds last year. But I couldn’t quite silence the nagging voice in the back of my head… You know it. The one that keeps saying, “What if I don’t stack up to the competition?” Going head to head with Flora Duffy, ranked #1 in the world, and 13 other Olympians was no small feat.

But going into race day, I was calmer and more focused than usual. I knew all I could do was push as hard as possible – as Adam said, I just had to make those girls take every inch they got from me. Perhaps having my mom, aunt, and cousin there helped keep my mind off of what lay ahead as well!

It’s weird not racing until the evening. So much time chilling in the hotel room! But everything went as smoothly as it could leading up to the race, including warm up (this is the first race ever I’ve felt like I got a full warm up in! Boy, does it make a difference!)

Greg and I talked about not shelling myself in the swim – just looking for feet as soon as possible, as I probably wouldn’t out-swim the strong field of women I was racing. I did just that, but upon reflection, sold myself short. In the process of not quite believing I could hold my own in the midst of the pack, I let myself drive to the back of the group. And while this is still light years ahead of where I was less than a year ago in my first pro race, and quite an accomplishment for someone without a swimming background, I know I have more to give. This leaves me eager for my next chance to race these ladies!!

Elite Women's swim start (thanks Leah for the vid!)

Coming out of the water, I was in the “take no prisoners” state-of-mind. I had a quick transition and started picking people off one by one. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite bridge up to the group just up the road, but I definitely put up a fight on the bike, dropping numerous competitors in the process. Heading out onto the run, I thought only about turning my feet over. It’s the first race in which I haven’t looked at my watch once. My eyes were glued on the back of Jillian Backhouse, with whom I ran for the first lap of three. Unfortunately, I let her slip away in the second half of the run. I put up a competitive time, but one that Greg and I know can be improved significantly once we actually start working my run!

Overall, I’m not sure I could have asked for a more positive World Cup debut. Each time I race, I learn to much about the sport of triathlon, the art of racing, and about myself. But perhaps my most important lesson this weekend came from seeing that I do belong racing at the top of this sport. I believe. And that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Thanks to my family for coming out to watch and cheer and experience Montreal with me; to my Team IE family for all your support from all over the US; to Coach Greg and Kim Whitney for your endless guidance and believing in me before I did myself; and to my sponsors – Rudy Project, Kiwami, Hammer Nutrition, Northeast Site Contractors. Next up, full steam ahead with training, some short hard racing at Major League Triathlon, and then…. Who knows! Stay tuned. Onward and upward!